Wednesday, July 13, 2016

ISIS Comes to Gaza

By Khaled Abu Toameh

  • Recent reports leave no doubt as to cooperation between Hamas and ISIS groups in Sinai. These reports, the Egyptians and Palestinian Authority argue, provide further evidence that the Gaza Strip remains a major base for various jihadi terror groups that pose a real threat.
  • The report said that terrorists wanted by the Egyptian authorities were admitted to the Gaza Strip hospital in return for weapons given to Hamas by the Islamic State in the Sinai.
  • Mahmoud Abbas and the leaders of the Palestinian Authority (PA) can continue to talk all they want about a Palestinian state that would be established in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. But when ISIS-inspired groups are active in Gaza and there are no signs that the Hamas regime is weakening, it is rather difficult to imagine a Palestinian state.
  • The jihadi groups clearly seek to create an Islamic emirate combining the Gaza Strip and Sinai. Abbas might thank Israel for its presence in the West Bank -- a presence that allows him and his government to be something other than infidel cannon fodder for the jihadis.
Reports indicate that an increasing number of Hamas gunmen have in recent years fled the Gaza Strip to join ISIS in Sinai, Syria and Iraq. Pictured above: An August 2014 image of terrorists from the Islamic State in Sinai (then known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis), preparing to behead four Egyptians they accused of spying for Israel.
Hamas denies it up and down. Nonetheless, there are growing signs that the Islamist movement, which is based in the Gaza Strip, is continuing to cooperate with other jihadi terror groups that are affiliated with Islamic State (ISIS), especially those that have been operating in the Egyptian peninsula of Sinai in recent years.
This cooperation, according to Palestinian Authority security sources, is the main reason behind the ongoing tensions between the Egyptian authorities and Hamas. These tensions have prompted the Egyptians to keep the Rafah border crossing mostly closed since 2013, trapping tens of thousands of Palestinians inside the Gaza Strip.
In 2015, the Egyptians opened the Rafah terminal for a total of twenty-one days to allow humanitarian cases and those holding foreign nationalities to leave or enter the Gaza Strip.

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